*Yahoo! Media Buyers Band Against Major Web Companies
Representatives of some of New York's top online ad agencies were set to meet last week to form the New Media Consortium, a group of front line executives, such as media buyers. The group aims to put its two cents into setting long-awaited standards like a universally accepted definition of an ad impression. This is something Procter & Gamble's 2-year-old trade group of senior-level Internet executives called FAST-or Future of Advertising Stakeholders- was formed to do, but hasn't done fast enough for many in Web advertising.
"If nothing else comes out of this, we can kick them in the ass," said Greg Smith, director of strategic services at Darwin Digital, the interactive arm of Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, and a co-founder of the group. "The people in the meeting are very much the people on the front lines. These are the people who have to deal with the arrogance of certain large sites."
Top issues on the New Media Consortium's agenda involve, of all things, counting. The Internet industry has yet to adopt industrywide guidelines on basics such as when an ad is served and what a click through is -- issues crucial for accurate billing and campaign measurement.
FAST has issued guidelines on these issues, but for some, they haven't gone far enough.
The New Media Consortium also wants to discuss how to handle Web page caching, a practice that lightens Internet traffic and speeds Web page retrieval by storing frequently requested Web pages so they can be viewed without going across the Web to get them. As a result of caching, though, popular Web pages are viewed repeatedly with the same ads and no way to count them.
"I don't have the people to argue impressions vs. click-throughs, or 'was my ad served,' " said Smith, calling the current industry climate "distinctly advertising unfriendly."
Meanwhile, FAST welcomes whatever progress the New Media Consortium can make.
"To get guidelines and standards accepted by the industry is a harder task than getting agencies together to agree on what they think these guidelines should be," said Vivienne Bechtold, director of i-Knowledge at Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, and newly appointed chair of FAST. "FAST is intended to be an industry catalyst organization for industrywide initiatives. If this group is interested in picking up the ball in a particular area for guidelines and standards, FAST would love to work with them."
Saatchi & Saatchi's Smith estimated representatives of 20 agencies would attend the meeting which was scheduled to take place on last Thursday.
Representatives signed up to attend reportedly included executives from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and J. Walter Thompson; True North Communications' Modem Media and FCB Worldwide; Interpublic Group's Zentropy Partners; Grey Advertising's Beyond Interactive; and Interactive agencies Organic and Agency.com.
"[The New Media Consortium] might dissolve after tomorrow, but it will be because the established organizations are finally getting it together," said Smith.